Personal versus electronic word-of-mouth – an insight based on cognitive and affective factors of word-of-mouth in the area of consumer electronics

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Hoehn, Eva
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MA of Business Administration
Dublin Business School
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The power of Word-of-Mouth (WOM) has long been documented in the literature, indeed WOM is believed to be the most influential sources of information (Barreto, 2013; Kimmel, 2013; Allsop, Bassett and Hoskins, 2007; Solomon et al., 2006). With the aid of the internet the reach of WOM has increased even further, and review websites and social media platforms have made it easier than ever for consumers to share their experiences. Distinguishing between the traditional form of personal WOM and the impersonal form of electronic WOM, this research examines the relationship of the two forms of WOM in relation to affective and cognitive factors found to influence WOM. For this purpose four WOM factors were investigated: homophily, tie strength, source credibility and argument strength. Conceptually, the Stimulus-Organism-Response model was used to underpin the research and consumer electronics were chosen as the product focus. To this end both primary and secondary research was conducted, including an online survey which yielded 108 completed questionnaires. The quantitative data obtained from the questionnaires was statistically analysed and results indicate that there is a general prevalence of personal WOM over electronic WOM in terms of perceived importance. For the cognitive WOM factors expectations that electronic WOM would be particular important were not confirmed, however, it was shown that cognitive factors are generally of importance in WOM communications. A significant difference was found for affective factors in favour of personal WOM, which was considered more important by respondents. As a result, this research advocates a wholistic view of WOM that will encourage academics and practitioners alike to move away from a one-sided approach focusing solely on the more current electronic WOM phenomenon. Author Keywords Word-of-Mouth, Consumer Electronics, S-O-R, Cognition, Affect, Homophily, Source,Credibility, Argument Strength, Tie Strength